OpenPages Buys PwC Compliance Software

Seeking to ramp up enterprise adoption of packaged Sarbanes-Oxley Act compliance software, OpenPages acquires PricewaterhouseCoopers' Internal Controls Workbench software application.

Seeking to ramp up enterprise adoption of packaged Sarbanes-Oxley Act compliance software, OpenPages Inc. on Wednesday announced it has acquired PricewaterhouseCoopers LLPs Internal Controls Workbench software application.

Terms of the deal between the two privately held companies were not disclosed. But the move gives OpenPages access to PwCs 375 ICW customers, more than seven times the number of customers OpenPages has for its own SOX Express compliance software.

OpenPages, of Waltham, Mass., intends to migrate ICW customers to SOX Express by June 30, 2005, when it plans to end support for ICW, officials said. Michael Duffy, OpenPages president and CEO, said customers who used ICW to manage the initial documentation of their Sarbanes-Oxley compliance processes will use SOX Express to automatically monitor and maintain compliance to those processes that meet sections 302 and 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

While startup and established software developers have flooded the market with packaged Sarbanes-Oxley compliance offerings, enterprises have been slow to invest in such software. Meta Group Inc. published research last December that indicated that more than half of all compliance software developers were disappointed in their software sales and 75 percent of investments made in SOX compliance were on consulting and other services.

"This [acquisition] gives us an opportunity to capture a significant share of the broader market. Period," Duffy said.

PwC developed ICW for its clients as part of the consulting services it offered them. The company did not sell the software separately. In fact, its audit clients received the software for free, according to Lynn Edelson, PwC partner and chairperson of the firms Sarbanes-Oxley Task Force.

Edelson described the SOX compliance software market as being "on the brink of an explosion." However, she said PwC does not want to be a software vendor.

"Our strategy has always been to stick to our core competency, which is risk assessment, advisement and tax, not software," she said.

OpenPages will offer incentives to get ICW customers to migrate to SOX Express, including a 50 percent discount on SOX Express and full credit on any unused ICW support services fees, Duffy said. The company will also consider extending support for ICW beyond next June based on customer demand, he said.

As part of the deal, OpenPages joins PwCs Vendor Alliance Program, allowing the companies to work more closely together in providing compliance software and services to customers.

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